Just about every second Wednesday evening at 7 PM, the South
Philadelphia String Band Club comes alive with great acappella harmony.
Located at 2820 Porter Street (near 28th & Passyunk) in the heart of South
Philly, the small club is usually packed with doo wop aficionados and singers.
People come from near and far to hear a featured established vocal group doing
a couple of sets and the singing doesn't end there. After the featured
group you can count on the other singers in attendance to get up and do some impromptu acappella singing
- a real acappella-fest. In between live groups, DJ King Arthur spins music
for the dancing and listening pleasure of the audience. Often DJ Jimmy
DePre spins records too, aimed at the record collectors in the house. If that isn't
enough to make it worth the nominal $10 cover charge, admission also includes
is a delicious
Italian buffet. The gathering is a "Who's Who" of the Philadelphia Doo
Wop music scene.
This regular Doo Wop and acappella event is the creation of Eddie Natale and Bobby Buerklin
and has been growing in popularity since it was first started in 2007.
Eddie and Bobby are both from the Grays Ferry neighborhood of South Philly, an
area that produced many vocal groups. "This has been a dream of Bobby
and myself for many years," said Eddie. "It is our way of giving back to
the music, which has been such an important part of our lives. It was
actually the brain child of Bobby Buerklin and stemmed from the closing of a
doo wop spot on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly called Ozzie's. We
would meet there every other Thursday to hear the groups sing. There was
no stage; the groups strolled around the dining areas and sang. Bobby
often remarked to me that we needed a permanent place for the groups to get
together. When Bobby was elected Vice President of the South Philly
String Band, he immediately asked the board about using the Club twice a month
for Doo Wop get-togethers. He approached me and asked if I would contact
the various groups and invite them to sing at this new venue and if I'd do all
the PR work via email. The beginning was modest and after a few months
we had to change from Thursdays to Wednesday evenings. Thus began the
Wednesday night era. As the mailing list grew and word spread throughout
the city and suburbs, the attendance at the club became gigantic and we became
a monstrous venue for R&B vocal group harmony. Various DJ's like King
Arthur, Benny Marcella and Jimmy DePre came in and spun those great oldies
dance numbers for dancing between sets."
Now, twice a month, Eddie sends those on his email list a notice of when the next
meet-up will be held and who the featured group will be. Since parking is on
the street, it pays to get there on time as the club is always packed.
Bobby Buerklin, who incidentally used to sing with the Doo Wop group the
Intentions, is also the cook who prepares the great buffets.
Neither Eddie nor Bobby make a cent on the String Band Club
acappella events; it is purely a labor of love for both. They do this
solely to preserve this genre of music that they love. It is but a new
chapter in their ongoing quest to never let the music die. The motto
coined by the neighborhood is, "Where else can you go for ten bucks, eat a
great buffet, and listen to the greatest music of all time?"
Though South Philly is a considerable drive from Classic
Urban Harmony Headquarters, we've attended the acappella fest on numerous
occasions and always had a great time! We've posted some photos
from our May 20, 2009, visit to the South
Philly String Band Club. The featured acappella group
that night happened to be Quiet Storm who did a great job. Junior (Jimmy DePre) & the
Four Seniors also supplied some additional harmony as well as the usual
acappella-fest with many of the other singers in attendance. While these
photos reflect just one night, the scene is repeated twice a month throughout the year.
Eddie Natale & Charlie have been friends
for many years. Eddie's one of the keys
keeping the music alive at the South Philly String Band Club.
Bobby Buerklin, Vice President of the South
Philadelphia String Band Club
and former member of the Intentions. Bobby also cooks those great
King Arthur, Pam & Charlie. "King
Arthur's Crown Sounds" radio show can
be heard on DestinationDooWop.com. King Arthur deejays at the Club between groups.
King Arthur and his wife The Queen (Janet).
"The Queen's Crown Jewels"
radio show can also be heard on DestinationDooWop.com.
Billy Taylor, formerly of the Castelles,
Dreams, Spaniels, Orioles and Dominoes
Atkinson of Tony & the Masquins, Troupers, Matt Brown & Concepts & several
Oil Can (Harvey Holiday's radio producer),
Pam and Cornerstone's Golden Voice Harry
Quiet Storm, singing songs from their new CD.
Jack Strong (formerly of the Lytations & Contenders, now
his own radio show, JP's Salad Bowl, on DooWopCafe.net) & Pam
Music historians, Steve Applebaum & Bob Bosco.
latest article on the Fantasys in Echoes of the Past
Junior & the Four Seniors
[left to right: Jimmy DePre, Bobby Buerklin, Joe Mehl (formerly of the 4
Graduates & Juke Box Serenade),
John Paloney (formerly of the Intentions, the Ecstasies, Memory Lane and many
Dave Moore (formerly of the Ecstasies).
Tom Rowell (left), Frank Torpey (front)
formerly with the Contenders
WVLT 92.1 Radio's Mike Carr of the "Forgotten
The Radio Deejays: [Back row from left:
Charlie Horner, Jim Bakay (WRDV, GoldRadio),
Dennis The Doo Wop Cop (WVLT), King Arthur (DestinationDooWop.com),
Mike Carr (WVLT),
Johnny B (GoldRadio), The Skipper (WVLT); Front row from
left: Jimmy DePre (DestinationDooWop.com),
Carl Tancredi (GoldRadio),
Jack Strong (DooWopCafe.net), The Queen (DestinationDooWop.com).
Jim Bakay (of Street Corner Five and radio
WRDV, GoldRadio) & King Arthur
Carl Tancredi of GoldRadio's "Work With Me
Charlie & Castelles' Billy Taylor
Pam & The Queen
Mike from the Little Bourse & Golden Voice
Dave Moore (formerly of the Ecstasies) & Jimmy DePre
Dennis Gillen, formerly of Rick & Masters
Charlie, Matt G. & Dennis The Doo Wop Cop
John Paloney leading the Seniors
Eddie Natale & Castelles' Billy Taylor
There were many friends there that we didn't get pictures of
this time around. We'll do better next time.
Our thanks to Eddie and Bobby for all they do to keep group harmony alive!
As Eddie pointed out, "Ultimately the success
of Doo Wop at the South Philly String Band Club is due to the continued
fantastic support of all who attend these events."
If you'd like to receive email notifications of South Philly String Band Club
Eddie Natale at his new email address
For photos and a write up on a later visit to
this Acappella-fest, click
Acappella & Doo Wop at the South Philly String Band Club Revisited.
Copyright © Classic Urban Harmony LLC, 2009. All